Here's Your Damn Jetpack

Were I a nicer person—like, say, her—this post would be called "The Coming Thing". But I'm not nice, as we all know. Anyway, remember that book "Where's My Jetpack?", about how hey, we're living in the 21st Century, but we don't have all the neat tech the SF writers said we would?

  • This. Just this. Yeah, it's got a lot of limitations; still a jetpack though.

  • Powered armor is apparently right around the corner. Everyone and his duck is making powered lifting exoskeletons and all kinds of funky armor materials. The Japanese, of course, are leaders in exoskeleton research (is there a red one that's three times faster?) with Honda and a company called Cyberdyne—yes named after the one in Terminator—coming out with incredible things. MIT, Lockheed, and Raytheon are getting into it, too.

    For the armor, well, materials science is almost as crazy as processor science—iron colloids, synthetic fibers more fire-resistant than Kevlar and less brittle than carbonate fiber, nanoscale bits of silica suspended in polyethylene glycol that harden into a ceramic shield when struck.

    Now just get me an energy shield that'll fully recharge 6.25 seconds after last taking damage, and we're in business. I'll pass on the liquid crystal longjohns with an AI living in them, though, thanks.

  • The USS Gerald Ford, currently under construction, will have, instead of steam catapults, the EMALS—Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System. If you can think of something cooler than launching fighters from a rail gun, I'd love to know what it is.

  • So remember the spacesuits in Bebop, how they're basically a wetsuit with a motorcycle helmet? Yeah, it's called a mechanical counterpressure or space activity suit—you pressurize it with elastic instead of filling it with gas, and unlike a gas-filled suit pin-prick type punctures won't hurt it. MIT and NASA are currently working on one called the BioSuit.

  • So it's theorized when we finally do replace the M-16, it'll be with a modular rifle firing caseless rounds in 6.8X43 mm. Caseless has a lot of headaches inherent in it—there were reasons we went with casings in the first place, there were actually a few early caseless designs that lost out to brass in the late 19th century. But we're finally ironing the kinks out, and we might see a change as radical as the shift from cap-and-ball to cartridge ammo in the next 20 years.

So, yeah, anyway, as always, the hardworking gentlemen (and increasingly ladies) with sliderules (or equivalent) are deep in the salt mines developing your jetpack, son, maybe you just never noticed, or maybe it turned out not to be worth it after they created it. Of course, all these encouraging developments won't amount to anything, if various forces of idiocy screw something up.

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